CLARK: The dining experience | Notice


Almost two years ago, I wrote an article for this column called “The Table”. I was describing what I meant by the term.

I wrote: “I am discovering that it is (The Table) more than a place to eat. It is an experience where we not only share the food, but also ourselves. We have conversations. We slow down and listen. It is an opportunity to nourish our bodies and our souls.

I still believe it. And after a year and a half where so many of us have had little or no contact with extended family and / or friends, sitting around a table and breaking bread is an even more expensive practice.

I also wrote in this column: “If you’ve traveled abroad, especially to places like Italy and France, you’ve probably noticed that dining is not a rush business. People linger … and not just because the wine is flowing. There is a kind of fellowship that we Americans often overlook.

One of the farm events we missed the most during the pandemic was our experience at the chef’s table. We plan to start these alfresco dinners again in September. And it makes me rethink all the things I love about dinner parties.

We are seated against each other at a long, narrow table. It encourages connection with others. Often people come with friends, but there are always people who don’t know each other. An unhurried meal gives them the opportunity to have conversations with people they might not otherwise have met.

We like to have a small number of people – no more than 20. This allows everyone to interact with the chef as he presents each dish and the wine that goes with it.

Between classes, our guest artist shares his creative journey. We might also have the chance to see / hear their creativity. We all go home after learning something.

And then there is the obvious – the breaking of the bread. We taste delicious local products, meat and wine. This gives us the opportunity to spotlight other small businesses.

Normally we dine outside under giant oak trees, with Edison lights hanging above. It’s a great environment, which our customers really appreciate. A few weeks ago we were supposed to organize a lunch for 10, but the weather forced us to have the meal in one of our 16×20 glamping tents. Even though we were inside, we still lived. so many items that I mentioned earlier. While we could hear the rain outside, we were snug in our canvas dining room, talking and laughing, getting to know each other and eating a beautiful and delicious meal.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not good at practicing The Table in my everyday life. Meals are often something I grab quickly as I walk out the door. But whenever I have this type of dining experience on purpose, I walk away feeling full – not just with the food I have eaten. I am satiated by the conversations and the connections. My mind clears and my vision widens. I’m leaving a richer person.

Sherry Asbury Clark is co-founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. His column, Discovering a Small Town, appears weekly in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You can reach her at [email protected] For more information on Purdon Groves, a retreat farm, table, venue and property, check out or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.


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